I love design books. They’re basically grown-up picture books, with so many shiny photos to peruse and endless inspiration in store. So much more predictable and engaging than Pinterest or Instagram, and always there when you’re trying to find that living room you loved.
My growing collection of interior design books are all full of flags and post-its.
But there are some that I just can’t help but return to again and again. Beyond the pretty pictures, they have lessons or ideas I just can’t quit. They provide inspiration when I’m feeling lost, or tips when I can’t figure out why something feels off.
Today, I’m sharing my top 5 interior design reference books—the kind that won’t just sit on the shelf, but you’ll reach for again and again.
Ready? Let’s read.
1. Styled by Emily Henderson
Perfect for: Those that want their space to feel “done” or photo-ready.
Emily Henderson has one of my favorite blogs, so naturally, I had to pick up a copy of her book, and I’m so glad I did! While it’s mostly focused on styling (ie making a room feel finished through vignettes and arrangements of items), it’s full of fab design ideas. It even starts with a quiz to help you identify your style.
Plus, it’s a great reference with a glossary of design words, tips on creating a color palate, and steps to organizing collections and refreshing spaces.
Reference: when your room is alllllmost done and you’re wondering where to put your knick-knacks, coasters, and pillows.
2. Making Midcentury Modern by Christopher Kennedy
Perfect for: Lovers of all things Palm Springs and midcentury modern, especially if you’re looking for ideas for making midcentury design feel fresh and modern.
We love midcentury modern design and are certainly influenced by it, but midcentury also means a lot of different things to different people. I love that this book is basically written as a list, a rundown of pillars of midcentury modern design. (Plus, if you’re just in it for the pictures, it’s not too…wordy.)
I got my copy signed at Palm Springs Modernism Week and Christopher was super nice! His store is also a must-visit if you’re in the area.
Reference: the fab images when you’re seeking an infusion of something midcentury but aren’t quite sure what.
3. Hygge & West Home by Christiana Coop and Aimee Lagos
Perfect for: People who love the stories behind a design; less “perfect” and more “real” interior design.
I got this book because I love Hygge & West wallpaper (which should be no surprise to you), but I stayed for the engaging stories of how different creative people built and live in their lovely homes.
It also feels very “real” compared to some design books—you can imagine real people living in these spaces. Unsurprisingly, it also features a lot of inspiring wallpaper usage.
Reference: the stories to remind you to take your time and be true to yourself when it comes to interiors.
4. Collected: City & Country by Sarah Richardson
Perfect for: Anyone looking for ideas.
This is the newest book on this list—it came out just this year! Since we recently moved from the City to the “Country” (okay it’s the burbs), I knew this book would prove to be a great reference for me. The best part? It’s actually the first in a series! (The next one comes out in October but you can preorder already.)
This book reads like a magazine, and has a lot of diverse looking homes, from traditional to modern. It’s a great read, but I love coming back to it when I’m craving an infusion of inspiration.
Reference: the diverse styles in the photos for ideas on mixing styles.
5. Homebody by Joanna Gaines
Perfect for: Lovers of Farmhouse style; Fixer Upper Fans; anyone taking on a major renovation.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Chip & Jo and all things Fixer Upper (have you seen how I geeked out over visiting Waco??) so of course I had to grab her design book. As much as I love pretty pictures, I was floored by how legitimately helpful this book is.
Even if you’re not the biggest fan of farmhouse style, you can learn a lot from Jo’s experience designing many, many homes. (The photos aren’t all her designs, but they are mostly variations on her black, white, wood farmhouse-esque style, with infusions of other styles along the way.)
Reference: the appropriate section (it’s divided by room) before beginning a project to get a helpful list of elements to consider.
The Best Design Reference Books
Do you love referring to design books as much as I do? Tell me in the comments or over on Instagram which ones are your favorites—I’m always looking for new ones to love 🙂
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